Beau Munn, a descendent of the Dagoman and Gurindji people from the Katherine and Wave Hill region, is determined to make a difference within corporate Australia. His entrepreneurial mindset and can do attitude has allowed him to quickly climb the corporate ladder as he paves the way and inspires future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.
Five years ago, Beau Munn was flicking through a newspaper, when a job advertisement caught his eye. He had just finished school and was working on a farm in Victoria: “I was reading the newspaper at ‘smoko’ one day and saw a job advertisement for a teller for 20 hours a week. I thought I can’t be a farmer for the rest of my life,” he laughs. “I was looking for something that wasn’t so hands on, so I went for it and got it.”
Munn, “a young Aboriginal fella from Katherine”, worked for Westpac as a teller in Hamilton, Victoria, for a year before
he was offered the opportunity to move to Melbourne with BT, Westpac’s wealth arm. For a year and a half he worked as a paraplanner but realised it wasn’t the right fit – Munn, a people person, had a desire to get out and meet new people. Insurance broking would allow him to do just that. Today, at just 22 years of age, Munn is a stakeholder and Executive Manager of Origin Insurance Brokers (Origin), an authorised representative of Marsh and Australia’s first Indigenous-owned insurance brokerage.
Through the servicing of corporate clients, Origin aims to create awareness and understanding of the challenges facing Indigenous Australians. It helps to encourage employment, engagement and to drive diversity and inclusion within all companies. Melbourne-based Munn agreed to meet during a recent business trip to Sydney.
“Many big corporates, including Marsh, are doing a lot in that Indigenous space,” he tells me. “Marsh is in the final approval stage of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – I sit on the committee and can see that everyone there wants to make a difference.” As for Origin: “We’re essentially using insurance as a vehicle to be able to give back to the Aboriginal community.”
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, cost is a barrier preventing participation in Post-Graduate courses. Though Origin is still in its inception, Munn says: “We’ve been fortunate enough to have already put three young Aboriginals through MBAs.”
We’re essentially using insurance as a vehicle to be able to give back to the Aboriginal community.
Co-founder, Director and CEO of Origin, David Liddiard says: “All Australian kids deserve a chance to have good education and strong employment prospects.” Liddiard, a descendent of the Biripi and Ngarabal people and successful NRL premiership player with the Parramatta Eels, has devoted the last 30 years to Indigenous youth welfare and development, health, education and employment.
In 1995 he founded the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA), which has provided opportunities to more than 40,000 Aboriginal children. Liddiard was awarded the Order of Australia in 2013 for his service to Indigenous youth, sporting and employment programs.
During our phone conversation, Liddiard talked about the expertise of his co-founder and Managing Director, Adam Rhodes. As a qualified lawyer who has worked in insurance at a senior management level, for more than 20 years, Rhodes identified that the industry is in a unique position to drive change within corporate Australia. “He is a passionate advocate for closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he tells me.
As a Supply Nation Certified enterprise, Origin can help businesses tendering for Commonwealth Government contracts, meet a portion of its Indigenous Procurement Policy requirements. Furthermore, it can assist businesses in meeting their Reconciliation Action Plan targets..
And rather than relying on government funding, Origin uses the portion of insurance premiums that are typically
paid as fees and commission to create social impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Liddiard says: “Ultimately, it’s about profit with a purpose. We want to make a difference; we don’t want to be greedy people.”
To ensure their profits are rightfully allocated, Liddiard enlisted the help of a mentor. Professor Tom Calma AO, an
Aboriginal elder of the Kungarakan people and member of the Iwaidja tribal group, has agreed to the position of Chairman and Director of the Origin Indigenous Leadership Foundation. “Tom will find the best fitting and most
appropriate thing to do with the fund, which might be putting it into an Aboriginal girls’ foundation,” explains Munn.
The entire origin team agree Marsh have and will continue to play a pivotal role in the success of their organisation. “Their commitment has been amazing, we couldn’t be in a happier place,” says Munn. Liddiard echoes that: “Adam said we needed strong backing, so arranged meeting with all the big brokerages. Our first was with Scott Leney, CEO Pacific, Marsh.
Scott has done CEO sleepouts and is a big advocate for diversity and inclusion, having established national committees in Australia and New Zealand. As we walked out of the meeting, I turned to Adam and said, ‘cancel all other meetings, I want to work with Marsh.”
And as Origin grows, Munn says Marsh is committed to increasing the number of Indigenous cadets it takes on. Munn and I admired the incredible views from Tower One, the Barangaroo headquarters of Marsh, and chatted about adjusting to city life. “It was crazy, I had never been to a big city. Darwin was the biggest before moving to Melbourne.”
And although Munn talks fondly of what has very much become a second home, he didn’t always feel a sense of belonging: “When I first moved to Melbourne I hated it, but I’m absolutely in love with it now – I don’t see myself ever anywhere else.”
A long way from that farm in Victoria, and more importantly, his family in the top end, I ask if he’s faced any challenges as an Indigenous Australian in the corporate setting. “I’ve found it very embracing actually. When you talk to people and say, ‘I’m an Aboriginal fella from up north’, they have so many questions. To be taken on as a young recruit, and be relocated to Melbourne to gain experience, that was really cool.”
It’s evident Munn is passionate about his family heritage, proudly speaking about his “Nan”, an elder, and says he’s aiming to be a corporate leader and mentor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. Liddiard assures me he’s already succeeding: “Beau is the most phenomenal young man I’ve ever met. I was at Marsh when Beau walked up to me, introduced himself and told me he is a descendant of the Dagoman and Gurindji people. I needed a protégé, and Beau was that.”